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Looking back at Dan O'Dowd's 15 years as Rockies general manager

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The second general manager in franchise history saw some high highs and some incredibly low lows throughout his decade and a half at the helm.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

On September 20, 1999, Indians executive Dan O'Dowd was hired as the second general manager in Colorado Rockies history, replacing Bob Gebhard.

In his first offseason as Rockies GM, O'Dowd started to build his reputation as "Dealin' Dan," breaking up the Blake Street Bombers by trading Dante Bichette to the Reds for reliever Stan Belinda and outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds and Vinny Castilla to the Devil Rays for pitcher Rolando Arrojo. He also rebuilt the bullpen, adding Julian Tavarez, Mike Myers and Jose Jimenez while trading away Curtis Leskanic and Dave Veres.

In his first draft as Rockies GM O'Dowd began assembling the 2007 National League champions, selecting Garrett Atkins in the fifth round, Clint Barmes in the 10th and Brad Hawpe in the 11th.

The Rockies finished 82-80 in O'Dowd's first season at the helm, and that winter he made the two signings that would define his tenure with the Rockies.

On December 4, 2000, O'Dowd signed 30-year-old left-handed pitcher Denny Neagle, who had two All-Star appearances to his name, to a five-year, $51 million contract, eight days later he doubled down on his commitment to pitching, signing another southpaw, 27-year-old Mike Hampton, who was second to Randy Johnson voting for the 1999 Cy Young Award, to an eight-year, $121 million deal, the largest in baseball history at the time.

Hampton and Neagle's career highlight reels as Rockies would be best set to John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever," because they came to Coors Field and got lit up like a couple of firecrackers on the Fourth of July.

Hampton lasted just two seasons in Colorado, posting a 5.75 ERA and 21-28 record over 62 starts and 381 2/3 innings before being traded to Atlanta, he is probably most noted as a Rockie for hitting seven home runs in 2001. Neagle did not fare much better, lasting three seasons with the Rockies, going 19-23 with a 5.57 ERA in 72 appearances, 65 starts, and 370 1/3 innings.

O'Dowd did manage to sign one good pitcher in 2001, in April the Rockies came to terms with a 17-year-old righty from the Dominican Republic by the name of Ubaldo Jimenez.

The Rockies finished 73-89 in 2001, despite O'Dowd trading away staff ace Pedro Astacio for right-handed pitcher Scott Elarton and trading outfielder Jermaine Dye, whom he had acquired from Kansas City for Neifi Perez, to Oakland for three minor leaguers who never would make an impact in the big leagues.

"Dealin' Dan" was relatively quiet in the offseason leading into 2002, making just one big move when he traded third baseman Jeff Cirillo to Seattle for pitchers Denny Stark, Jose Paniagua and Brian Fuentes, the latter of whom would go on to become the Rockies' all-time leader in saves.

The 2002 season saw a second-straight 73-89 finish for the Rockies, but did bring one of the best draft picks in franchise history when they selected Canadian lefty Jeff Francis with the ninth overall pick that June. They also grabbed UC Santa Barbara outfielder Ryan Spilborghs in the 11th round of the 2002 draft.

After the '02 season, the Rockies were able to rid themselves of Hampton, a move that cost them a whole lot of cash and Juan Pierre, but did return catcher Charles Johnson and outfielder Preston Wilson. They also signed Todd Helton to a nine-year, $141.5 extension that replaced Hampton's deal as the largest in franchise history.

The 2003 season was a third straight that saw the Rockies mired in mediocrity, going 74-88 and finishing fourth in the NL West, but did see the first fruits of O'Dowd's drafts as Atkins and Barmes made their big league debuts late in the season. The only 2003 draft pick of note was first-rounder Ian Stewart. None of the Rockies' next 17 picks made a single major league appearance.

O'Dowd lived up to his "Dealin' Dan" moniker in the offseason leading into 2004, acquiring infielder Aaron Miles and starting pitcher Joe Kennedy in trades while signing outfielder Jeromy Burnitz and shortstop Royce Clayton in free agency. Castilla also was brought back as a free agent heading into 2004.

The Rockies finally broke out of the morass of winning between 70 and 75 games. Unfortunately they went the wrong way with a record of 68-94 as the Todd and the Toddlers era was well underway. On the youth front, 2004 was a good year for the Rockies, they saw Francis, Hawpe and Matt Holliday make their big league debuts, Seth Smith, Chris Iannetta and Dexter Fowler selected in the June draft and Jhoulys Chacin signed as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela.

There were no major acquisitions in the offseason between 2004 and 2005, unless you count a trade for Byung-Hyun Kim, as O'Dowd and the Rockies remained committed to a youth movement. The 2005 season was equally uninteresting, with the Rockies finishing 67-95 and the highlights coming on Opening Day, when Barmes hit a walk-off home run against Padres closer Trevor Hoffman and on draft day when the Rockies selected Troy Tulowitzki with the seventh overall pick.

The Rockies' youth movement continued heading into 2006, as O'Dowd acquired Yorvit Torrealba and Jamey Carroll through trades and signing free agent pitch Josh Fogg in the offseason and picking up Kazuo Matsui and Jeremy Affeldt in trades leading up to the trade deadline during a 76-86 season, the team's best since 2000. The 2006 season also saw the major league debuts of Iannetta, Tulowitzki, Jimenez and Manny Corpas.

However, the 2006 draft began a string of poor drafts that was likely a big contributor to the team's recent lack of success. The Rockies took Stanford pitcher Greg Reynolds with the second overall pick in '06, and the only other players from that class to don a Rockies uniform were seventh-rounder Michael McKenry and ninth-rounder Will Harris.

Everything came together for the Rockies and O'Dowd in 2007. Prior to the season, he traded 2002 NL Rookie of the Year Jason Jennings to the Astros for outfielder Willy Taveras and pitchers Jason Hirsh and Taylor Buchholz. The bullpen was also bolstered by the signings of righties LaTroy Hawkins and Matt Herges.

The Rockies started slowly in 2007, going just 10-16 in April and 39-42 through the first three months of the season. After a 10-2 loss to the Marlins, Colorado was 76-72 and 4.5 games behind San Diego for the Wild Card, it looked like '07 would be a solid season of progress toward contending in 2008 or 2009. But then the Rockies won a franchise-record 11 games in a row, pulling to within a game of the Wild Card heading into the final weekend of the season. The eighth win of that streak, over Greg Maddux and the Padres, was Colorado's 84th of the season, the most in franchise history.

Taking two of three from the NL West champion Diamondbacks was enough for the Rockies to force a one-game playoff against the Padres at Coors Field, which they won, 9-8, thanks to a three-run rally against Hoffman in the bottom of the 13th. Colorado then went on to sweep the Phillies in the NLDS and do the same to Arizona in the NLCS, winning the first pennant in franchise history.

The 2007 NL champions were truly O'Dowd's team, he acquired six of the everyday position players, three through the draft, two in trades and one through free agency. He also drafted Spilborghs and Iannetta, who were key contributors off the bench. Four of the Rockies' five primary starters were acquired by the O'Dowd regime, as were six of the seven most-used relievers.

Whatever you say about O'Dowd's reign in full, you can't take 2007 away from him. Though it took winning 21 of 22 games for them to become NL champs, they were a legitimately good team, scoring 102 more runs than they allowed and posting a Pythagorean record one game better than the 90-73 mark they finished at.

The biggest move the Rockies made leading into 2008 came just five days before the season started. On March 26, O'Dowd traded reliever Ramon Ramirez to the Royals for a player to be named later, who would turn out to be 27-year-old left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa.

There is perhaps no Rockies season that has been as disappointing in 2008, coming off their first ever NL title, injury and underperformance, primarily from Tulowitzki and Francis, consigned the Rockies to a 74-88 record and third place in the NL West.

Following up a 2007 draft that saw none of Colorado's first eight picks make the major leagues, the Rockies did marginally better in 2008, drafting left-handed pitcher Christian Friedrich in the first round and outfielder Charlie Blackmon in the second.

After the disappointment in 2008, the Rockies did some major re-tooling going into 2009. The biggest move was trading three-time All-Star and 2007 NL MVP runner up Holliday to Oakland for fellow outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, closer Huston Street and left-handed starter Greg Smith. O'Dowd also bolstered the '09 Rockies with starters Jason Marquis and Jason Hammel and reliever Matt Belisle.

The Rockies again got off to a slow start in 2009 and with the team's record at 18-28 in late May, O'Dowd fired manager Clint Hurdle, who had been in the job since 2002 and in the Rockies organization since 1994. Colorado then went on a tear under new manager Jim Tracy, using a 21-7 mark in June as a springboard to a 74-42 finish under Tracy, finishing a franchise-best 92-70 on the season and winning the Wild Card by four games.

However, the season ended in disappointment as the Rockies dropped a pair of one-run games at Coors Field in the Division Series, losing 3-1 to the Phillies.

On a brighter note, the 2009 draft finally snapped the Rockies' drafting dry spell as they nabbed southpaws Tyler Matzek and Rex Brothers in the first round and selected third baseman Nolan Arenado in the second.

Having made the playoffs two of the past three seasons, O'Dowd and the Rockies did not feel the need to make any major changes heading into 2010, only adding catcher Miguel Olivo and utility man Melvin Mora to the 2010 squad.

That strategy looked to be paying off after a 12-2 win over the Dodgers on September 18 that left the Rockies at 82-66 and solidly in contention for their third playoff berth in four seasons, thanks in large part to the big bats of Tulowitzki and Gonzalez and the fact that Jimenez pitched one of the better first halves of the season any of us have ever seen. But it was not to be for the 2010 Rockies, as they finished the season as the exact inverse of the 2007 version, losing 13 of their last 14 games to finish 83-79.

There was another solid draft class in 2010, with the Rockies adding Kyle Parker, Josh Rutledge and Corey Dickerson to the organization.

The big news in the winter of 2010 for the Rockies was a pair of contract extensions, first a franchise-record 10-year $157.75 million deal for Tulowitzki that was followed by a seven-year, $80 million pact with Gonzalez. Jimenez, the third star of the Rockies' 2010 season, notably did not receive a similar extension.

O'Dowd re-tool the Rockies after the 2010 collapse, adding veteran infielders Jose Lopez and Ty Wigginton as well as relievers Felipe Paulino, Matt Lindstrom and Clayton Mortensen.

After a hot start to 2011, the Rockies went 17-8 in April, everything fell apart in a disastrous May that saw the Rockies finish with an 8-21 mark. The Rockies were 51-56 on July 30 when they traded Jimenez, unhappy with his contract situation, to the Indians for a package including pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. They finished the season 73-89, fourth place in the division.

The 2011 draft does look to have produced a couple strong players in first round picks Tyler Anderson and Trevor Story, who are both currently among the top 11 PuRPs.

After the disappointment in 2011, O'Dowd underwent a major overhaul in the offseason, offloading Street, Iannetta, Stewart, Smith and Hammel, among others and adding pitchers Tyler Chatwood, Jamie Moyer and Jeremy Guthrie, outfielders Tyler Colvin and Michael Cuddyer and infielders Marco Scutaro and DJ LeMahieu.

If 2011 was a disappointment, 2012 was a disaster. None of the Rockies' acquisitions worked out, with the poster boy being Guthrie, who the Rockies made their Opening Day starter. He pitched just 90 2/3 innings with a 6.35 ERA before being shipped to Kansas City in July as Colorado finished with the worst record in franchise history at 64-98.

The 2012 will be noted by most for the implementation of what the Rockies called Project 5183, a plan in which the Rockies switched to a four-man starting rotation, limiting those starters to 75 pitches and using so-called "piggyback" relievers for up to 50 pitches. It also saw Bill Geivett promoted to vice president of major league operations, meaning O'Dowd would have more of a focus on the minor leagues.

Tracy resigned after the catastrophe in 2012, and O'Dowd reportedly tried to do the same before being convinced to stay by Rockies owner Dick Monfort. He then hired former Rockies shortstop Walt Weiss as the team's new manager.

Unlike the major re-tooling after 2011, the Rockies only made a few minor changes heading into to 2013, much to the chagrin of a portion of the fan base. Notable among the acquisitions was the return of Torrealba behind the plate.

The biggest addition to the team in 2013 came internally, as Arenado was promoted to the majors in late April. He struggled a bit at the plate in his rookie season, but won a Gold Glove at third base, but the Rockies as a team again struggled, finishing last in the NL West again despite improving to a 74-88 mark.

Having added top three PuRPs David Dahl and Eddie Butler in 2012, in 2013 the Rockies, like they did in 2006, used a top-three overall pick on a right-handed pitcher from college. This time it was Oklahoma's Jon Gray, rated by many as the top prospect currently in the Rockies' farm system.

In what would be his final offseason as Rockies' GM, "Dealin' Dan" was at it again as 2014 approached. He traded away Fowler to the Astros for Brandon Barnes and Jordan Lyles and Pomeranz to Oakland for Brett Anderson. He also added 2006 AL MVP Justin Morneau as a free agent.

Once again, the Rockies struggled in 2014 to their fourth consecutive losing season, finishing eight games worse than in 2013 and only two games better than 2012 with a 66-96 mark. Somehow that was good enough for fourth in the NL West.

This time, Monfort accepted O'Dowd's resignation, and Jeff Bridich was named as the third general manager in Rockies history earlier this week.